---- — Former Newburyport state-champion pitcher Ryan O’Connor has solidified his spot in the Bentley University rotation during the opening month of the baseball season.
O’Connor, who earned Cape Ann League Player of the Year during his senior season at Newburyport High in 2011, pitched seven scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory over University of Bridgeport Wednesday in Bentley’s spring break trip to Winter Park, Fla. O’Connor evened his record to 2-2, and lowered his ERA to 2.70. He allowed five hits and two walks while recording four strikeouts.
“I’ve had ups and downs this year,” O’Connor said. “But I’m starting to find my way in college. I hope to keep improving.”
O’Connor pitched below his standards as a freshman at Bentley, logging an 0-3 record with a 6.46 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. During an outing midway through the season, he dislocated his throwing shoulder during his delivery, effectively ending his season.
“It felt like someone stabbed me,” O’Connor said. “It didn’t feel very good. I was doing physical therapy at school the rest of the spring and most of the summer.”
O’Connor said he has yet to return to 100 percent health this season, although he appears to be fully stretched out midway through March. He threw 96 pitches in Wednesday’s victory. Bentley evened its record to 6-6.
“I hope to help the team get to the (Northeast-10 Conference) tournament like we did last year,” O’Connor said. “I’d like to go farther than we did last year when we lost the play-in game.”
O’Connor was Newburyport’s ace as a senior in 2011, leading the team to the Division 3 state championship. He logged a pitching record of 22-6 at Newburyport and set school records for strikeouts in a game (18), season (122) and career (236).
“I still check in with people from Newburyport once in a while,” O’Connor said. “Obviously, we talk a lot less than we did in high school.”
Pentucket Regional High alumnus Eric McDonald wrapped up his indoor track and field career in style as a member of the UMass Lowell squad. He placed 16th in the 3,000 meters (8:23.30) at the NCAA Division 2 Indoor Track and Field Championship in Birmingham, Ala. McDonald also ran on UMass Lowell’s distance medley relay team, posting a split of 4:07.52 in the mile. He joined teammates David Brown (1,200), Craig Bennett (400) and Scott Boiko (800). The previous weekend, McDonald earned a Northeast-10 Conference title in the mile (4:10.85).
Newburyport High alumnus John Stansel narrowly missed earning NCAA Division 3 All-America status when his Bates College distance medley relay team placed ninth at the NCAA Division 3 Indoor Track and Field Championships last Friday. Bates’ medley relay team fell one place shy of All-America recognition. Stansel, a sophomore, ran the 800 in the relay, which also included Noah Graboys (1,200), Ben Levy (400) and Nick Barron (1,600).
Newburyport High alumna Lindsay Cullen, a senior at Bates College, concluded her indoor track and field career with a season-best performance in the 5,000 meters at the Open New Englands. She finished 11th out of 28 runners in 17:54.05.
Newburyport High alumna Molly Rowe was one of 17 members of the Bentley University field hockey team to be named to the 2012 Gladiator by SGI/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division 2 National Academic Squad.
Triton alumna Jen Rock, a member of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) women’s basketball team, was one of 36 athletes at the school to be named to the 2012-13 Liberty League Winter All-Academic Team.